Going beyond the buzzwords

When it comes to social media, real estate agents hear a lot of overblown rhetoric about how it’s “a new 2.0 communications paradigm that’s disrupting everything you know and love”. While trying to emphasize the value of social media, language like this makes real estate agents think social media is a completely new concept. It scares agents into thinking they don’t understand how to act on social media and makes them second guess anything they do.

The result is not doing anything at all or half-hearted attempts at maintaining a Facebook page (which can be just as bad as doing nothing). So what is social media really?

It’s just a bunch of conversations

A social network is not that different from any backyard bbq or cocktail party (but without the delicious meats or fancy drinks). It’s a collection of different people sharing how everything is going in their life, talking about things they find interesting, and checking in on other people.

Think about the type of people who are interesting to talk to at parties. They tell funny stories while showing a genuine interest in the people around them. They don’t do all the talking, and when they do talk, they adjust what they’re saying to who’s listening. They ask real questions and actually listen to the answer. In other words, they have basic social skills.

Most real estate agents are naturally social and do great at gatherings. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate well to online gatherings. If Facebook was a backyard bbq, many real estate agents would sound something like this:

Don’t miss this beautiful rowhouse for $620,000! 5 acres of prime real estate for $230,000! Check out this 2 bedroom charmer in Georgetown! Great historic house for $440,000! New property across from an elementary school! Your dream home, only $380,000!

Basically, just pushing their properties on people without adjusting their message, or taking any time to let other people talk. If they were at a party and looked around, they’d realize absolutely no one is listening. But how do you draw people in and get them listening again?

All you have to do is be yourself

Imagine yourself talking to a group of people at a party. What types of things would you talk about? What questions would you ask the people around you? In most cases, you can use your answers to those questions as the basis for what you post to social media. And to develop a successful social media presence, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  1. When you post to Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, use the same tone of voice that you would have when speaking to a group of people right in front of you. Don’t treat social media like a modern version of classified newspaper ads.
  1. Draw people in by starting conversations around interesting topics and insights related to your business. Post articles about local events, news and market trends. Make your property updates unique and engaging for people to read.
  1. Once you have people listening, think about the amount that you post and make sure you aren’t overwhelming people with too much information. People have many other things going on in their life and a little respect goes a long way.
  1. Ask questions to let other people share their point of view. Don’t be a conversation hog. When you take the time to listen, it demonstrates that you care about others and look out for their interest. Plus, listening to other points of view can provide great insights into how to improve your business.  

Just being yourself and showing a genuine interest in others is a great foundation for social media success. While each social network has different rules and best practices, being a kind and helpful person always pays off.